Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Are US Citizens Being Held Hostage in Libya?

From the careful dance that PJ Crowley just waltzed out at the media conference on Libya it is clear that the US is seriously concerned with getting their citizens out of Libya. One reported asked if US citizens had gone to the airport, and been turned back, alluding to the fact that there may be some uncertainty around events, fishing perhaps, to get an indication of the reason why people who were under the impression they were leaving Libya were turned back at the airport. Are they being used as diplomatic hostages? After all, Gaddafi did threaten to impose the death sentence on anyone from any country that was fostering dissent in Libya, and it is clear that Americans, Egyptians and Tunisians are all under suspicion, along with islamists and drug taking teenagers, ... an unlikely mix in reality. I don't think that an islamic state goes hand in hand with thousands of ecstacy consuming young protesters, or with Jerry Springer for that matter. But was he sending a dangerous message to the US, that their citizens in Libya might be put in harm's way should the US decide to take action.

I am sure that when the paranoid Gaddafi heard that Obama had said that he was "keeping all options open" in respect of Libya, Gaddafi must have recognised that old US tone ... that intervention by force wasn't out of the question! By all calculations, he and his PhD bearing son must have calculated, it would be the Americans who led the international attack - they always do!

Is this what is transpiring under the veil of communication between the United States and Libya? Was Gaddafi's actual aim to inform the diplomatic chessboard what his postion is in relation to them - perhaps even threatening war to his neighbours and taking his international guests hostage? Imagine, I shudder to think, what would happen if Gaddafi decided to invade Egypt should he survive this crisis, or Tunisia? Libya shares borders with both, and by all measures, his recent words can well serve as precursors to war. Is he threatening the region, and the international community of bringing a whole new level of instability by stirring up war? It is not unfeasible - most dictators know that a good way to consolidate and unify one's nation is through war. Perhaps he is raising the ante in order to demonstrate the lengths he is willing to go to, or is he just a paranoid old man lashing out at his various past demons, the collective sum of his scarecrows, hauled out together for once, in his most desperate moments.

It would not be the first time that Muammar Gaddafi has engaged in terrorizing the international community, and unless he is stopped now, it won't be the last. It is no longer a moral question of whether to take action in Libya, it is a question of when and how action should be taken. It is clear that Libya has devolved to a state of lawlessness and leaderlessness that is is dangerous to its citizens and its neighbours, near and far. To prevaricate now, is to lose the opportunity to move with the momentum of protest action in Libya, and later it would seem, that when action is eventually taken, they were actually taken with more impetus to secure oil than to save human lives.

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